Semenya humiliated: athletics chief

Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:23pm GMT

By Claire Watson

BERLIN (Reuters) - The gender controversy surrounding South Africa's teenage 800 metres world champion Caster Semenya has been humiliating for her, the country's athletics chief said on Thursday.

Semenya's rapid improvement over the past year, in which she has shaved more than eight seconds off her personal best in the two-lap race, prompted the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to order a gender test.

"I will continue to defend the girl, I will continue to do anything, even if I am to be kicked out of Berlin, Germany, but I am not going to let that girl be humiliated in the manner that she was humiliated because she has not committed a crime whatsoever. Her crime was to be born the way she is born," said Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene.

"And now people are not happy, and on that basis she is isolated like a leper, like she has got a disease that will affect other people, and I don't think it's proper," he told Reuters Television.

The IAAF said on Wednesday, hours before Semenya was due to run in the 800 final, the procedure for gender testing had started.

Powerfully built but smooth running, the 18-year-old clocked one minute, 55.45 seconds for the year's fastest time and a personal best by more than a second to win gold.


"I think what they should have done is to protect her until the results are out and then we sit and look at it," Chuene said.   Continued...

<p>Caster Semenya of South Africa celebrates after winning the women's 800 metres final during the world athletics championships at the Olympic stadium in Berlin August 19, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler</p>
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